American Univesity of Beirut

The Impact of Civil Society Activism on Policymaking: Cases from Jordan and Palestine


The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) continues to publish case studies completed by researchers and research groups over the past two years, in the framework of the “Breaking the Mold: Civil Society Actors and Policymaking in the Arab World" research project, with the support of Open Society Foundations.

Here, we bring to the forefront various case studies from Jordan​ and Palestine that unpack the role of civil society in influencing policymaking in both countries. In the face of chronic regional instability, socioeconomic difficulties, and stagnant political environment which both Jordan and Palestine continue to endure, the presence of civil society actors is remarkable. On a wide array of issues – stemming from the social and economic marginalization of certain groups, to laws that are discriminatory on the basis of gender or that disproportionately favor entrenched systems of power – civil society is making its voice heard, often shaping the national conversation and managing to bring about concrete changes in legislations and societal attitudes.

From Jordan, we publish a background paper and seven case studies that examine the efforts carried out by civil society, the obstacles faced by activists with disabilities striving to make their voices heard, activists campaigning against importing gas from fields off the coast of Palestine, teachers campaigning for equal pay, women's rights and workers' rights advocates, as well as anti-tobacco groups, calling for legislative changes. In addition, one of the cases examines the May-June 2018 National Strike that led to the dismissal of Prime Minsiter Hani Mulki's government. 

Additionally, we present ten case studies and one background paper from Palestine that tackle the work and strategies of civil society in the occupied territory, one where obstacles are amplified, approaches weakened, and social movements take on various political and identity-related facets. The cases touch on the following issues: The role of the Palestinian civil society in the campaigns demanding the adoption of the Right of Access to Information Law and the implementation of minimum wage. Additionally, they address issues pertaining to the influence on public policies to prevent discrimination and violence against women as well as femicide in the name of the so-called honor, enhancing the political participation of women, the promotion of women's rights in social security policies, and the campaigns to protect and free children detained in the prisons of the occupation, stop the prawer plan and the G4S, alongside the campaign on boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS).​

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